Where That Green $32 Billion Went: Recovery Act Update


Photo credit: The Navigators via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA

It was the first big move made by the Obama administration, and yet the stimulus bill remains controversial and largely misunderstood. There's little disagreement among economists that the Recovery Act spared the US from slipping into a full-bore depression, or that it created or saved millions of jobs. And yet, according to polls, most Americans feel that it did little to help the country, or themselves in particular -- questions about 'where all that money went' are commonplace. So let's take a look. Remember, billions of dollars were allotted for investment into renewable energy -- where exactly did it go?To answer that question, Greentech Media has posted the Recovery Act FAQ, which breaks down where the funding flowed in the green sphere. Here's a sample:

Over $23 billion of Recovery Act investments support renewable energy. Many of these investments are directly contributing to the doubling of U.S. renewable energy generation capacity from wind, solar, and geothermal by 2012. This means installing as much renewable energy generating capacity in the next three years as the U.S. had in the previous thirty.
This investment has allowed renewable energy capacity to grow from 28.8 gigawatts in 2008 to 57.6 GW today, enough to power 16.7 million homes with clean energy. And then there's this:
The Weatherization Assistance Program for low-income households benefits all 50 states, and although it is mentioned in each state memo, those summaries do not capture that this massive $5 billion mobilization is now gaining steam by the month: Here's the PDF link.
And this:
Does the DOE also make cash payments for renewable energy technology deployment through the Recovery Act? Section 1603 of the Recovery Act allows developers to convert certain tax credits into cash payments, and that is all handled by the Treasury Department. The federal government has paid out $5.4 billion thus far, and each of the 1,300+ projects and the value of its claim is listed here.
Which means that the stimulus bill has aided the deployment of over $5 billion in renewable energy projects like wind and solar plants. In other words, despite the tiny fraction renewable power still figures into our national energy mix, there's a hell of a lot more of it actually in operation or breaking ground now. 5,000 projects have been selected to receive DOE funding, a full list of which you can find at the agency's website.

With the failure of comprehensive clean energy legislation casting such a pall over the US energy policy landscape, it's easy to overlook the fact that we've made some significant progress over the last years as a direct result of federal funding. But the stimulus funds are running out --and further action will be necessary to keep renewables competitive with the heavily subsidized fossil fuel industries.

More on the Stimulus Bill
Stimulus Bill Created Nearly 1 Million Green Jobs: CEA Report ...
Guide to the Green Projects in Obama's Economic Stimulus Bill
The Stimulus Bill Tax Credit Guide: Great Green Stuff Obama Will Help You Buy

Tags: Barack Obama | Clean Energy | Congress | United States

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